WCGH exterior makeover approved

By Stephanie Grinnell | Dec 01, 2017
Courtesy of: SMRT An artist's rendering of the exterior of Waldo County General Hospital after an emergency department expansion.

Belfast — Four members of the In-Town Design Review Committee have approved exterior changes to Waldo County General Hospital, including removal of decades-old pillars at the entrance.

The hospital is expanding its emergency department and redesigning the facade. The expansion will add 4,500 square feet to the emergency department, and, to replace parking area lost to the expansion, the hospital also plans to add 70 new parking spaces behind the Biscone Medical Building across the street from the main hospital campus. The city's Planning Board approved the plans Sept. 27.

SMRT architect Craig Piper said at that time the goal of expanding the emergency department is to increase patient privacy and treatment area function. The expansion will parallel the existing emergency department and feature an exterior covered canopy, while doing away with pediments and pillars that currently define the main entrance to the hospital. Piper said the cupola will be retained.

“The cupola is quite special,” he said.

According to Piper, the pillars, pediments and cupola became part of the hospital in 1956. An addition in 1983 kept those features but moved them forward to front a new entrance. With the new design, which also retains existing windows, the cupola becomes the main architectural feature, he said.

The main entrance and emergency entrances will be combined and patients and visitors will enter a lobby area, Piper said, with the main entrance to the hospital to the left and emergency department to the right. Much of the facade will feature opaque windows to ensure patient privacy and mirror the look of a previously removed solarium.

Planning Board members in September questioned sign placement in an area with a circular traffic pattern intended as a drop-off area for emergency department patients. O'Connor referenced earlier meetings in which the roundabout was discussed but said the plan remains unclear as to what will stop people entering the lot from Northport Avenue from driving through the circle and exiting on Fahey Street. Piper noted there will be “Do not enter” signs placed in that direction of travel, as Fahey Street will become one way with the new pattern. The existing ambulance drop-off area remains the same, he said.

In October, In-Town Design Review Committee members asked Piper to consider another color — shown in drawings as white — for fencing designed to shield roof-mounted mechanicals from view, according to meeting minutes, but expressed few other concerns with the plan.

Work is expected to begin sometime in 2018.

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Stephanie Grinnell
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.

Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.

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